PM says Poles prepared to defend their homeland
Poland's prime minister has said that 40 million Poles are ready to defend their homeland with gun in hand, if Russia attacked Poland.
Taking part in the official opening of an air-gun shooting range at a school complex in the southern province of Silesia, Mateusz Morawiecki said the war in Ukraine served as a reminder that freedom is not given for ever and that just as previous generations had had to fight for freedom, so people today need to be vigilant.
"We must know that this time of peace, maybe for many years, a long period, is over," he said. "It has happened due to the barbaric, unprovoked matter of Russia's attack on Ukraine.
"If Russia ever had the idea of attacking Poland, Russia must know, the Kremlin must know, that in Poland there are 40 million Poles ready to stand with gun in hand to defend their motherland," Morawiecki said, despite Poland possessing a population of 38 million.
He went on to say that for many centuries Poland had been "under the boot, in Russian captivity.
"We don't want that captivity back," he said. "We reject their colonialism, their imperialism. We are in a free country and we will strive, fight for our freedom."
The prime minister continued to say that one element of building defensive capacity was strengthening the Polish Army, both in terms of troop numbers and equipment.
Morawiecki added that parliamentarians would work on a special law in the coming months to ensure regulated access to firearms and announced government plans for "a firing range in every municipality."
"Every firing range is necessary, but modern ones, available to all residents, is something we stand for today," he said.
He said the special law on access to weapons would be focused on, in particular, young boys and men in order to make the country "stronger and better trained in the use of arms."
"We must be sufficiently armed to deter an enemy, our army must be strong enough that it is best never used, tested in battle," Morawiecki said, adding that the whole of civil society should be trained on firing ranges.